Neutralizing Citizens United Won't Get Big Money Out of Government--Greatly Reducing the VALUE of Political Influence Is the Only Way
The Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission is a grave threat to America 's already faltering democracy. This ruling essentially legalizes the well-under-way takeover of our government by big corporations. To claim corporations are persons and are thus protected by our First Amendment is an absurd abomination. Many progressive groups (e.g. freespeachforpeople.org, MovetoAmend.org) have organized against this decision. But attempting to neutralize this ruling by amending our Constitution is futile folly.
This well-meaning strategy goes something like this: amend our Constitution to end corporate personhood, which would take away corporate First Amendment rights to unlimited free speech (political spending), which would then allow us to enact legislation that limits big money's influence in government. This can't possibly succeed. Here's why:
It's highly unlikely such an amendment would pass because big corporations pretty much own our government already and would unleash their immense political influence to prevent it (and Congress would surely be on their side). But let's assume such an amendment passes. Let's further assume legislation is then enacted that goes way beyond the McCain-Feingold Act and prohibits most of the current shady political spending by big corporations.
This approach has the same fatal flaw as drug prohibition
Prohibiting the buying of a product in great demand (such as certain drugs) is doomed to fail. It simply creates a lucrative underground industry that will find creative ways to bring eager buyers and sellers together. The only effective way to get big money out of the drug business is to enact policies that greatly reduce the value of the product for sale. Prohibiting the buying of certain drugs is futile folly because it does nothing to reduce the value of the product (on the contrary). The only effective way to reduce the value of prohibited drugs (and thus get big money out) is to end prohibition. But that's another matter.
Similarly, prohibiting any corporate buying of political influence (a product in great demand) is doomed to fail. It would simply create a lucrative underground industry that would find creative ways to bring eager buyers and sellers together. The only effective way to get big money out of government is to enact policies that greatly reduce the value of the product for sale. Prohibiting corporations from buying political influence is futile folly because it does nothing to reduce the value of the product for sale. There would still be great demand, which means, by hook or by crook, corporate money would continue to flow between eager buyers and sellers of political influence.
But if we enacted a simple accounting system that GUARANTEED immediate public exposure of ALL government deceit, this would greatly reduce the value of political influence (since deceit is typically necessary to pass special interest legislation). Here's why it would work:
Deceit is vital to bought political influence
Take away deceit and bought political influence loses its power. Since members of Congress claim to represent the interests of the American people, they MUST regularly use deceit to hide their efforts to enact special interest legislation. If members of Congress knew that ALL deceit by them would be publicly exposed almost immediately, it would be very difficult to enact special interest legislation. The power of bought political influence would be greatly reduced (thus greatly reducing its value), which would virtually eliminate big money in government.
But how could we GUARANTEE that ALL Congressional deceit would be exposed immediately?
By adopting WikiArguments, a simple system of forced Congressional accountability that would quickly and efficiently expose any and all deceit by our so-called "representatives". WikiArguments (details here) is an Internet-based (wiki) system that would make Congressional deceit virtually impossible.
Briefly, WikiArguments would provide a secure mechanism for anonymous public (wiki) arguments that expose government deception, but, more importantly, it would also provide a simple system of forced Congressional accountability where our "representatives" could no longer avoid giving us clear, rational justifications for their positions (instead of the evasive, specious claptrap they typically give us now).
WikiArguments would impose just one simple requirement on our members of Congress: they would be required to justify and defend their collective positions on legislation using clear, rational (wiki) arguments (one wikiargument for each side of an issue posted on the Internet so they can be easily scrutinized by the public). That's it. There would be no other requirement.
If members of Congress could no longer lie to us, they would find it nearly impossible to enact special-interest legislation. Corporations would stop spending big money trying to bribe Congress because Congress could no longer deliver the goods. The extremely lucrative lobbying market of buying and selling political influence would crash because bought political influence would become essentially worthless.
Why WikiArguments can't be defeated by clever politicians